South Korea's internal intelligence agency have admitted that they interfered with the country's 2012 Presidential Election.
The National Intelligence Service (NIS), the Korean spy agency, conducted a clandestine campaign in support of the conservative candidate Park Guen-hye, using teams of psychological warfare experts to further her chances.
An internal investigation carried out by the National Intelligence Service revealed that the former director of the organisation and other members of the intelligence hierarchy had also colluded to influence the parliamentary election before, supporting Lee Myung-bak, a candidate further to the right of Mrs Park.
Park Guen-hye beat her liberal opponent, Moon Jae-in in the 2012 and was returned as the first popularly-elected female President in the history of the East Asian region, but she is know standing trial in South Korea for corruption.
Park Guen-hye. Credit: RogDel/Wikimedia Commons
She is accused of abuse of power, bribery, coercion and leaking government secrets. She was impeached in late 2016, and will face life in prison if found guilty at her trial, which is due to start later in the year.
Her opponent in the 2012 election, Moon Jae-in, won the 2017 Presidential Election despite a concerted smear campaign by the National Intelligence Service. Since becoming President, he has said that he will reform the spy agency and remove its political influence.
The internal NIS investigation found that 30 'extra-departmental' teams of employees and civilians to post content in support of right-wing politicians in the two years before the election.
"The teams were charged with spreading pro-government opinions and suppressing anti-government views, branding them as attempts by pro-North Korean forces to disrupt state affairs," said the report.
The report came out on the last day of the trial of its former director, Won Sei-hoon, who faces charges of abusing his position to support Mrs Park.
Lee Myung-bak. Credit: hojusaram/Wikimedia Commons
"Our psychological operations against North Korea are important, but our psychological operations against the South Korean public are pretty important, too," said Won during a meeting several months before the 2012 election. He faces a four-year prison sentence if convicted.
The Park Guen-hye government was racked by accusations of high-level corruption and abuse of power.
Mrs Park, who herself is the daughter of the former dictator of South Korea Park Chung-hee, was impeached in December 2016 after revalations regarding contact between her government and alleged cult leader Choi Soon-sil.
Choi was accused of having access to high-level documents, despite holding no official position in the government, and in turn using confidential information to extort some of Korea's largest conglomerates. Choi Soon-sil was sentenced to three years in prison for her role in the scandal.
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